Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Do Your Customers Trust You?

This was the title of a Forbes article this week and it goes on to say, "Of all the disadvantages that small businesses have, one asset they have no excuse for lacking is a tight bond with their customers. Ultimately, that bond is built on trust-- in the entrepreneur's competence, character, and empathy for his customers' problems."

Over the last decade, corporate America , its stockholders, and its customers have been dealt heavy blows in the trust area... JetBlue, Taco Bell, Merck; not to mention Enron, MCIWorldcom, ImClone, and Tyco. But, what about those who consult? Do their customers trust them? (With the bigger question on my mind being, "Do my clients trust me??")

So far in my career, I've been able to safely navigate these murky waters by garnering the majority of my projects through referrals. High, HIGH initial trust factor in this scenario. However, to keep that confidence high, clear and consistent communication, realistic fee structures, and performance satisfaction (and not just satisfaction... you want the "wow" response) are the keys to maintaining not only customer trust, but building a relationship that leads to a new business snowball effect.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Say No to No

"Isn't it high time someone got negative about negativity? Yes, it is. Look around... the world is full of things that 'never should have happened.'
'Impossible... Impractical... No.' And yet, YES!!
Yes, continents have been found. Yes, men have played golf on the moon. What does it take to turn NO into YES?"

This is a small excerpt from Shell Oil's latest magazine ad campaign, and while I usually flip through my Fast Company like any other busy executive, this one really caught my eye. Yes, the ad goes on to talk about biofuel and other oil related "yeses," but the question "What does it take to turn no into yes?" is quite compelling... hmmmm

Is it facts? Is it a marketing "story" (i.e. fiction)? Or is it somewhere in between... an interesting, intelligent and thought provoking (yet, emotionally based) argument? Better yet, persuasion... that subtle art of helping others believe that it was their idea in the first place.
What do you think?

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Stories We Tell

My mother came over this past weekend and helped me go through five boxes (actually they're foot-locker trunks) I've had since grade school. The trunks contain scrapbooks full of childhood macaroni art, junior high diaries, major term papers, and yearbooks.

Originally, before opening these "treasures," my goal was to edited this stuff down to just two trunks. However, looking through all of these materials, I began to appreciate the story that was weaved over the years... my foundation, my values, my vision for my own future.

Which made me wonder, how many companies keep their own old marketing, public relations, and advertising materials? They should. It serves both as a reminder of who the company was in the beginning and a grounding point to maintain brand consistency as it grows.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Words to Present By...

This week has been VERY interesting...
I'm in discussions with a new client and we're discussing their Executive Summary. They are seeking an initial round of funding and I'm assisting them with their investor pitch.

The company has several players with extensive investment banking backgrounds and three of us are in a Starbuck's (where all significant business happens it seems) discussing the presentation... how to pitch, what to say, how many Powerpoint slides, etc. When all of a sudden, one of the gentlemen says, "All I know is-- Be brief, Be bright, and Be gone."

Wow! Couldn't this mantra apply to so many things in life? Hmmm...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Something we have to tell you...

Okay, I just had to share this image. It's from's Maureen Farrell article, Seven Laughable Warning Labels.
Note #2. I understand that companies must be concerned about not placing customers in danger, assuming those consumers act in a "reasonable" manner. But, to me, that fact should be a given since most (read, ALL) companies want repeat buyers and they can't be repeat buyers if they're dead.
Come on... does this LOOK like an edible item???

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Oh, did you say something?

If the new mantra of advertising/ marketing/ business development is "intimate conversations with the customer" while consumer generated media is ruling the day, do CEOs really want to hear what their audience has to say?

Customer expression, user engagement, consumer feedback... all these buzzwords sound warm and fuzzy and make all marketers worth their weight begin to salivate in anticipation of phenomenal campaigns and awards won for creativity and entertainment value.

However, like the annoying person that pens you in a corner at that never-ending cocktail-networking event, are the marketers just smiling, nodding, and inserting an "mmm-hmm" at the appropriate intake of breath? In the age of conversation, are the CEOs really listening?